An ex girlfriend’s mother loved the fact that I turned up in a different car every week to whisk her daughter away. There was only one make that made her shriek in horror – and that was Jaguar.
When she was growing up in London in the 1960s – the mum, not the daughter – Jaguar’s were apparently ‘only’ driven by gangsters and Arthur Daley-types. You remember him? The secondhand car dealer played by George Cole, in the TV series Minder. Must-see viewing for any family in the 1970s.
The old Jaguar XJ had such a distinctive shape that even if I taped over the name badge, I wouldn’t have got away with it. Of course, it’s a different story now. The XFR on the driveway today has a streamlined shape that could make it anything from a Maserati to an Aston Martin when viewed from a distance.
I miss the shape of the old XJ. You can pick up a mint example of the very last versions on Autotrader for less than £20,000. What a bargain! The XFR may be one of the finest saloons on the road but it does lack that classy style that only comes in an old Jaguar.
I can’t say my family has ever owned a Jaguar. Well, apart from my own E-Type but that was hardly an everyday sort of car and spent most of its life being cossetted in an inflatable bubble. Shameful.
In fact, the closest my father ever came to a Jaguar was when he had ‘a coming together’ with the newspaper proprietor, Eddie Shah.
We were pulling out of a junction when Shah’s Jag, indicating left, decided to drive straight on. I was about ten at the time and I just remember that Shah stepped out of the Sovereign wearing yeti boots. They obviously made quite an impression.
I think my father would have cringed driving the XFR. Not because it isn’t a good car but he was the sort of chap who kept a notebook in the glovebox and wrote down every drop of fuel he ever bought.
The XFR is only returning around 20mpg and I swear I’m driving it slowly. It’s only been in ‘Sport’ mode twice and we’ve not even been sideways, yet…
There is something ridiculously Jekyll and Hyde about the XFR. Sorry to keep going on about it but for a car that looks so ‘normal’, it has a quite outrageous turn of speed.
This is most apparent when you want to overtake. With 500bhp grumbling away under the bonnet, it only takes a tiny tweak of the accelerator for things to start happening.
I’ve been riding a Kawasaki motorbike around this week on test. It is also rapid at passing a car but the XFR, well, it’s in a different league – and you can listen to the thumping Meridian hifi at the same time.
The downside? Well, there’s rather limited leg and headroom in the rear. It’s quite cosy up front too, especially when you consider the overall dimensions of the Jaguar…
On a windy day like today, you want to be driving a car shaped like a stealth missile. Can I recommend the XFR then?
Last week we tested the Range Rover Sport and, as wonderful as it was, like all Range Rovers it still has the aerodynamics of a very expensive brick. Drive it at high speed in a crosswind and you will feel the earth move.
The XFR, on the other hand, feels as tight on the road as a Scalextric car. The ‘R’ has been tweaked to create extra downforce too, so even when you push it hard, it sits beautifully on the road.
The only wind you will feel on the inside is from the four air vents on the dashboard, which have covers that open automatically when you turn the key in the ignition.
It’s like something from Star Trek and very, very cool.
There are cars that shout about their performance and those that don’t. If you are not the sort of guy to walk around with your flies down on purpose, the XFR could be for you.
You see, unlike the Audi RS6 and the over-rated Mercedes E63, there’s not that much about the Jaguar XFR that suggests it has a monster of an engine under the bonnet. A direct injection, supercharged 5.0-litre V8 is always going to be quick, except in the XFR, it only reveals its true colour when you ask it to.
How refreshing. Here is a high performance car that is subtle and understated. In fact, you could steer the XFR around town without raising an eyebrow. The burble from the 503bhp V8 occasionally seeps out but otherwise, nobody is going to know that you are driving one of the best saloons on the road.
The Jaguar is a car that you could lend to your aged grandma to drive and she wouldn’t have a clue as to the performance. However, if she stomps her foot on the accelerator by accident, she will unleash a massive amount of torque that will catapult the XFR past anything at a huge rate of knots.
You have been warned…
The XFR is almost as sinister to look at as the Audi Q7. As Clarkson said, you could ‘nail it to a church wall to ward off the devil’ – and he should know…
It’s a subtle make-over compared to the brutish BMW M5 but all the usual stuff is there. Features like four exhaust pipes, a black front grille, chrome side window surrounds and red brake calipers.
Some drivers want to shout about the performance of their car but this being a Jaguar, it’s much less obvious and rather more refined.
Which do I prefer? I think the XFR. It’s just a prettier shape from a 5 Series and more, well, British. More tomorrow…
You might not have noticed the twin sets of tailpipes peeping out from under the rear of the F-Type. If you are close enough to see them in the metal, you will definitely have heard them coming.
The old E-Type sported a beautiful pair, angled upwards and a joy to polish on a Sunday morning. Yes, I’ll admit to getting my cloth out for that!
Now the F-Type has joined the rank of sports cars which has an acoustic button for the exhaust system. You can read about the Porsche 911 and Aston Martin Vanquish equivalent elsewhere on the site.
Jaguar’s is on the centre console and it just ups the tempo, helping to spit and burble your journey away. I know some people don’t like it but it’s a great sound! Whoever the engineer was who came up with the idea deserves recognition.
While most cars are accoustically muffled for the sounds of silence, Jaguar uses sound to accentuate the benefits of a truly great car.